A Budget for all – but no big ideas

The new Budget has been announced. For the first Budget with limited time, it is indeed a good one. Our Chief Minister  has said in the introduction that he intends to provide every citizen the bare necessities of life, a house, water in the tap, power, a road to the house, sewage facilities, education for children and safety for people and property. Ultimately this is what every citizen looks forward to and what we have not been able to achieve in the past 65 years. He has stated that he will ensure that taxpayers’ money is well-spent with no wastage, no leakage, and borrowings will be used only for creating assets. He is known as a stickler for financial prudence and this is indeed good news.

The Budget has indeed a wide sweep. He has provided for every section of society, the dispossessed, the poor and the emerging communities. He has focused on sanitation and health in a big way providing Rs.15000 for a toilet in the house of every member of the SC/ST community. He has also focussed on education, providing scholarships for all the poor in the SC/ST/backward communities. In the social sector, this is indeed a commendable Budget. He has made special efforts to address many felt needs.

No large investments: Industry disappointed

Industry is disappointed as there is no large investment in neither power nor infrastructure. Chief Minister has explained the projects which are in execution. We need to plan to be a power surplus state in 10 years and that calls for a change in strategy from building plants to entering into long term arrangements with planes elsewhere which have surplus power. What we need is focus on the Manufacturing industry as only this sector can provide the jobs for our young people. Massive investment in infrastructure is called for and this is just not there.

The infrastructure department gets only Rs. 550 crore – too little for our needs.  Job creation is another major challenge. Though there is focus on education and skill development without enough focus on infrastructure, there will be no jobs in future. Manufacturing has suffered in the last five  years and there is no respite in this Budget. The construction section is another job generator. Barring some skill development centres, not much has been said. The Budget falls short in both these areas.

Bangalore has got a fair mention in the Budget and the immediate challenges have been addressed in the forms of various roads, elevated roads, widening corridors etc. The total outlay is around Rs 3500 crore but there is a lack of focus on the larger issues of Bangalore in a major way. Waste collection is given Rs. 100 crore and but is plainly inadequate. Waste collection is the major challenge in Bangalore and needs comprehensive reform and investment. But the focus on the Suburban rail system is indeed a big one and hopefully will provide better transportation.

We need big vision

He has announced the development of the peripheral ring road and said that this will be speeded up which is certainly welcome. But all this is a list of projects and not comprehensive. We need much more for Bangalore to solve the long standing challenges. The North South corridor and the East West corridor with linkages to the core area to move traffic away from the core areas is a felt need. We need better power management in Bangalore taking the electric wires underground. We need a big plan to remake our footpaths to make Bangalore a walking city which has not engaged his attention. He would support the Phase II of the Metro and that is very welcome.

The IT and BT industry has come in for special mention stating that this is a vital sector for the state both for development and for job creation. Many programmes of the KIG group have been announced and this is certainly a step forward.

This is overall a good Budget to start with. But what we need is a vision of what Karnataka will be in 10 years, what we need to do to be the number 1 state in 10 years, what we need to do to make Bangalore a global city with good infrastructure over the next 10/15 years – and above all – how to  ensure creation of jobs for 10 lakh young people a year so that we have a stable state. We need big ideas, large solutions, massive investment and a big vision!

2 Comments

  1. Mr. Mohandas Pai is consistent as always. What he wants is extended support for big business, including the education business, so the they can create wealth for themselves and create a few jobs in the process.
    He reminds me of an apochpyral story of a conversation between a British administrator and a farmer about why the farmer should pay taxes. After listening to him at length the farmer said that you have explained to me is very interesting .I have an excellent guard dog. You would suggest that I should cut off his tail make soup out of it and feed it to him so that he would have more energy to do a better job.
    Businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats all act out the belief that society exists for their benefit. They are careful not to quantify the benefits that will trickle back as against what they will keep for all their trouble.
    When Caesar introduced taxes he did for a very different reason. It was not about a contract with the rich. It was a forcible contract of the rich for the poor, not for their own pockets. When will our illustrious businessmen understand that they are permitted to exist and society does not exist for their benefit?

  2. Encouragement to industry in this budget is latent in the 2nd priority given in expenditure to ‘energy’. There is a massive need to generate alternative energy at the moment.Industry can collaborate with agriculture to produce bio diesel. Industry can meet education infrastructure.rallying behind these needs suffices for this fiscal year?! Big ideas should come from the industry and from foreign direct and indirect investment. Budget is a short term document meeting most urgent needs. in a nutshell? It cannot give all sectors everything.

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